I've been getting no small amount of attention in Ghana on account of my earrings. I've had my ears pierced for quite a few years, and wear a pair of small steel studs these days.
One of the first people to remark on them was a mobile credit seller.
"Are you a boy or a girl?" he asked me. He was convinced the bible had a verse telling how earrings were for women, not men, to wear, and that mine must be causing me great pain.
He asked me why I wore them and I said, "Well, I like them."
"But it is for a woman," He continued," If I gave you a dress, would you wear it?"
He was just diving into the part of the conversation when he asked me how I could not believe in God and why I didn't go to church when young woman wearing a uniform (of a bank, supermarket, or filling station) came into the conversation and lectured his head off, that there was more than one religion in the world, and that I didn't have to go to church with him if I didn't want to.
"Goodbye, Michael," she said as she got up and left. She'd been listening the whole time.
A few days later, on a tro (sort of a minivan-bus-taxi), a woman selling eggs with hot pepper walked up to the window and smiled at me.
"You have these," she said, pointing to her earrings.
"Yes I do," I replied, grinning.
"Do you also have these?" she said, gesturing to her breasts.
I wanted to tell her I wished I did, but hesitated moments too long.
I'm enjoying all this attention I'm getting, which is a little out of the ordinary for me. I take secret delight in bucking the status quo (in such small ways) in a place like this, dominated by stubborn, hard-headed, (often aggressive, often very muscular) men.
Interesting fact: it is indeed true that only women wear earrings. Girls and boys alike are required to have hair cut close by lower grades of schools, which means that they are nigh indistinguishable before puberty. This means that most Ghanaian kids are going to school (yay!) and that earrings become a very apparent distinguishing feature between boys and girls, which seems to make an idea persist and carry on to define men and women.
Little did I know that a year later, I would wear a dress to my graduation ceremony and royally piss my family off.